The Oklahoma Equal Opportunity Scholarship Act law was originally approved in 2011 and has been revised a few times since. Since its inception, the act has had two mechanisms through which donors can receive state tax credits to reduce or eliminate their tax liability:
Donors can receive tax credits of up to 75 percent up to $1,000 for single filers, $2,000 for married filers and $100,000 for businesses per year. Currently, donors to scholarship-granting organizations are allowed up to $3.5 million in tax credits while donors to organizations benefiting public schools are capped at $1.5 million. If either side uses less than its full allotment of tax credits, the other side can offer the remaining portion to its donors.
In 2017 and 2018, scholarship-granting organizations received donations in excess of the available tax credits, even after claiming unused tax credits from the public school side of the program. Unused tax credits can be carried over and claimed for up to three years. The tax commission must publish by Feb. 15 of each year the percentage of the contribution for which a donor may receive a credit. (This is the only annual public reporting requirement of the act).
The EIGO portion of the program has never hit its cap. In 2017 and 2018, SGO donors received a prorated credit (86.5 percent and 91.1 percent, respectively) for their donations due to the cap
Students are eligible for scholarships in multiple ways. In each case, they must be “lawfully present” in the United States, and once eligible, will remain eligible without a subsequent qualification standard for continued eligibility. Here are the eligibility pathways:
501c3s may apply to the tax commission to become an SGO and grant scholarships for students accepted to qualifying private schools. The SGO requirements are:
Receiving an educational improvement grant:
501c3s may apply to the tax commission to become an EIGO. Note: donations to school districts or local education foundations do not qualify for tax credits. EIGO requirements are:
Very little information is available about SGOs and EIGOs authorized under the Oklahoma Equal Opportunity Scholarship Act.
Far more transparency is needed for the Opportunity Scholarship Act, consistent with reporting requirements for similar programs found in other states including Arizona and Alabama. Legislation is needed that would require the scholarship-granting organizations to annually report and for the Oklahoma Tax Commission to make available on its website:
Scholarship-granting organizations would also be required to annually confirm they meet legal requirements under the Equal Opportunity Scholarship Act.